PRASA’s deadline looms for fixing Pretoria’s ruined train stations

Stations on the Pienaarspoort to Pretoria line are supposed to be fixed by December. Some progress has been made.

By Mosima Rafapa

28 September 2022

Workers installing overhead cables at Mamelodi Gardens train station near Pretoria. Stations and cabling were badly vandalised and stolen during lockdown. Photos: Mosima Rafapa

It’s been a year since GroundUp visited four train stations in Mamelodi Gardens, Pienaarspoort, Greenview and Denneboom. All of them, including Greenview which had not even been completed, were badly vandalised, filthy and overgrown with grass.

At the time PRASA’s Noluvuyo Halana said the stations would be working by March 2022 and the second phase, which would address “the look and feel of the stations”, would be completed by December 2022.

When GroundUp visited the stations last week, some progress had been made.

At Mamelodi Gardens station, walls had been painted and the public toilets fixed and cleaned. Workers were installing overhead cables.

Nkele Montsho, an informal trader outside the station for 14 years, said it had been years since the toilets were useable. “The toilets were fixed around July. I now feel comfortable using them. Even on the other side of the platform, commuters are able to use those toilets now,” said Montsho.

Informal traders Sophie Machata, and Jennifer Mashilo, have been selling outside Mamelodi Gardens train station for more than eight years. They said traders used to line up to sell various goods here but have given up due to the unreliable train service.

At Pienaarspoort station, another group of contract workers had just completed the installation of overhead cables when we arrived. But very little other work had been done. Rubbish and cardboard boxes were scattered in buildings near the ticket office. The public toilets were locked, but smelly.

At Denneboom station, there was still rubbish and a smell of urine near the entrance.

Between Greenview station, which has not been completed, and Pienaarspoort station, about a 30-minute walk, we saw four Fidelity security officers. A patroller said the guards were there to secure the new infrastructure being installed.

Last year, PRASA’s Halana said that the rail agency’s R102-million project at Greenview station started in 2011 but halted in October 2018. She said the appointed contractor had said that due to unrest in the community, they could not complete the project.

One of the badly vandalised buildings at the incomplete Greenview station.

Phomolong informal settlement resident Patrick Nyalunga has lived near the station since 2007. Nyalunga works in Mountain View and used to rely on the train service to commute to work and back home.

He said commuters had to get off at Gardens which is about a 30-minute walk. “In winter it’s not safe to walk. Some days, we would ask the driver to go slowly and we would take the risk and jump off just when the train passed Greenview,” said Nyalunga. He said over the years, residents have pleaded with PRASA to get the station running.

“There’s no change. The infrastructure is still the same,” said patroller Gainy Modishane.

The Denneboom train station is in a better state than when we visited a year ago.

PRASA spokesperson Andiswa Makanda, said as a result of extensive vandalism, the Greenview project would have to be restarted. A new tender was advertised in September and the project is expected to take 18 months after the contractor has been chosen, said Makanda.